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Man wins battle for second wheelie bin

A Cheshire solicitors win against his borough council over the right to own a second wheelie bin will not spark a flood of appeals to other councils, suggests a Local Government Association spokesman.

The Sunday Times
(August 10) reported that the local government ombudsman ruled in favour of Roger Houlker who had fought a two and half year battle against Congleton Borough Council to be given a second bin for his Cheshire home.

Anne Seex, the ombudsman, found the council guilty of maladministration with injustice for failing to collect all of his waste and ordered it to pay Houlker £250 for his time, trouble and costs in taking his own waste to the tip. Houlkers household of five said their ordinary rubbish could not fit into the single 240-litre wheeled bin the council provided. Seex ordered the council to review its waste collection policies.

The Times
suggested that the ruling could lead to a flood of appeals against councils with similar one-bin-per-house rules.

But a Local Government Association spokesman told MRW: This is just speculation and it is not attributed to anyone. This is one case, with one member of the public taking on one local authority. This case is not legally binding on other councils it is an individual councils decision over an individual issue.

Houlker told the council that he was prepared to pay for a second wheelie bin because he said he had to deal with vermin ripping open black bags used to hold extra waste in his garden.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokeswoman said: Most local authorities follow Defra's guidance to be as understanding, flexible and helpful as possible when deciding what is reasonable for each household. As quoted in the Ombudsmans report, it is hard to see how the authority can justify refusing to collect waste from a second bin especially where the resident is offering to pay for the additional receptacle."

But Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee chair Lee Marshall said: I think what this case shows is how far we still have to go for people to accept that waste is their problem and not something that the council should sort out for them. It also shows that local authorities are doing the best they can within the confines of legislation that sometimes provides a lack of clarity. Given the Environmental Protection Agency is nearly 20 years old and local authorities have moved recycling collections on so much in that time we need to review and revise legislation to make it easier to introduce schemes and put more onus on the householders to take responsibility for their waste.

Congleton Borough Council monitoring officer Peter Sutton explained: Congleton Borough Council has received the report from the ombudsman which will now be considered by the Standards Committee on October 1.


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